Rafael Reyes on Monday, 04 October 2010 22:35
The US Navy has set an extraordinary objective to get half its energy from non-fossil fuel sources. One beneficiary is locally based Solazyme.
In a big boost for biofuels, Solazyme is expected to announce today that the U.S. Navy has ordered an additional 150,000 gallons of its algae-based fuel.
Based in South San Francisco, Solazyme grows algae in large vats and then extracts the oils for a variety of applications, from fuel to foods and the cosmetics industry.
The new contract with the Navy is more than seven times the size of an initial 20,000-gallon contract awarded last year and completed this week. The Navy is eager to find alternatives to its HRF-76 Naval Distillate, the shipboard diesel that it uses to power gas turbines and boilers.
Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, has laid out ambitious goals for the Navy to get half of all its energy needs for its 3,700 aircraft, 290 battle ships and thousands of buildings from non-fossil-fuel sources within 10 years.
Algal fuel has been seen as a quite distant fuel technology alternative. But this move by the Navy is creating a huge market niche which may rapidly commercialize this important alternative. The US has long been at risk due to its dangerous dependence on foreign oil but the aggressiveness of this move is suggestive of the urgency with which the issue is now seen.
It lends credence to the increasing concern arising on the geologic limits to fossil fuels. Following information on a special task force in the UK forecasting severe price volatility due to peak oil within 5 years, the concerns have surfaced from the German military:
A study by a German military think tank leaked to the Internet warns of the potential for a dire global economic crisis in as little as 15 years as a result of a peak and an irreversible decline in world oil supplies.
The study was produced by the Future Analysis department of the Bundeswehr Transformation Center, a branch of the German military. It was leaked in August, and its authenticity was confirmed last week by the German newspaper Der Spiegel.
The study states that there is “some probability that peak oil will occur around the year 2010 and that the impact on security is expected to be felt 15 to 30 years later.”
These statements follow a similar conclusion earlier this year from the Kuwait Petroleum Company.